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Insult to Injury

Protecting a cushy job by growing a thick skin

Insult to Injury

Robert Altman’s 1992 film The Player is best remembered for its opening camera shot that runs eight minutes without a cut (the TV show Better Call Saul paid homage to it last season), for its countless cameos from Hollywood who’s whos, and for its wink-wink, nudge-nudge, say-no-more satirizing of the business of show business.

Tim Robbins stars as Griffin Mill, a studio executive who rejects a script submitted to his office—something he does a dozen times a day—only to face the maniacal fury of a writer scorned. Threatening notes, postcards, even a rattlesnake in his Range Rover make Griffin a Molotov cocktail of nerves and anxiety, while at the same time he’s forced to parry the advances and triangulations of a colleague after his cushy job.

Don’t think life imitates art? Well, the same thing happens to me. Like. All. The. Time. Except, of course, for the part about the rattlesnake in the Range Rover, and the colleague being after my cushy job. (Wait. You haven’t heard anything, have you?)

Let’s circle back to that later. For now, here are excerpts from emails, texts, IMs and phone calls over the years from people who didn’t take kindly to having their ideas turned down, followed by the witty retorts thought of and typed out, but ultimately—and wisely—forever left unsent:

“You’re a stupid, lazy, arrogant, cynical, ass****, son of a b****.”

Hold on. Isn’t that from A Fish Called Wanda, where Kevin Klein berates John Cleese rapid-fire for 30 seconds, then dangles him by his feet out a third-story window? Classic scene. But you forgot “pompous,” “snot-nosed,” and “twerp,” not to mention “sexually repressed football hooligan.”

“You don’t understand what I am. This is 1968 and I’m Led Zeppelin. It’s 1987 and I’m Nirvana.”

Actually, I think it’s 1972 and you’re Carly Simon, as in “You’re so vain.”

“If you reconsider, I am willing to throw in the T-shirt rights for free!”

Whoa, whoa, whoa. T-shirt rights? Why didn’t you say so? Let me start peeling off $100-dollar bills, and you just tell me when to stop.

“Any reasonable and rational observer would call you a phony.”

But what would you call me?

“Why do I care about the opinion of some lowly UMass-Dartmouth grad anyway?”

How dare you malign the academic pedigree of one of America’s most geometrically symmetrical universities! You should see the campus. It’s laid out like a giant crop circle with buildings in the middle. Had it not worked out as an institute of higher learning, it would have made one heck of a shopping mall or maximum-security prison.

And by the way, who said I graduated?

“I could destroy all your games if I wanted to. It would be easy for me. Too easy, in fact.”

Please Hammer, don’t hurt ‘em.

“When your children realize what you are, they will not doubt find you as repugnant and repulsive as the children of crack cocaine dealers find their fathers.”

Sexist. Assumes all crack dealers are males. Women have come a long way baby, and they can hawk the rock as well as any man can, man.

“You obviously do not know how to read.”

I obliviously know how donuts are red, too? That makes no sense.

“Do you know who you’re dealing with? I’m not just another one-hit wonder.”

You mean this isn’t Dexy’s Midnight Runners?

“You are no more consequential in the higher order of things than a single-cell organism.”

What’s that, a protozoa? One of them-there asexual dealies? Sorry, but UMass-Dartmouth didn’t offer anything above remedial biology. At least not to us dumb business majors, anyway.

“Now what are you going to do, Mr. Big Shot?”

Big Shot is fine. “Mr. Big Shot” makes me turn around and look for my dad.

“I guess your company isn’t interested in making millions of dollars.”

Nah. Too much agro. First you’ve got to send an invoice, then you’ve got to collect the money. Then there’s a lot of accounting involved. Plus auditing, quarterly reports, earnings calls. It’s a real nuisance.

“You’re not qualified to coach third base on a children’s tee-ball team.”

Oh yeah? Check out these skills: Two outs, run on anything now… In the air, you’re tagging up.. Swing like you mean it… Don’t sit on the base; it looks like you’re trying to hatch an egg… What? Come on. How the #$%@ can you strike out? The frigging ball is on a frigging tee!

Mic drop.

Roger Snow is a senior vice president with Light & Wonder. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Light & Wonder or its affiliates.

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